Sallee: Alabama Had "Dysfunctional" Coaching Staff

The Crimson Tide faded down the stretch last season; there may have been a reason for that

Tiki and Tierney
July 16, 2019 - 8:48 pm
Nick Saban Alabama

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Alabama has won five of the last 10 national championships, but last year’s title game didn’t quite go as planned. The Crimson Tide led Clemson 16-14 early in the second quarter.

They were outscored 30-0 the rest of the way.

That begs the question: Is Alabama “OK”? Will the Crimson Tide be back in the national-title hunt this season?

Answer: Yes, and yes.

“They’ll be just fine,” CBS Sports college football writer Barrett Sallee said on Tiki & Tierney. “I don’t think people really understood – and I don’t think they let it be known – just how dysfunctional that coaching staff was the middle-to-the-end of last year. I don’t think they let on how injured Tua Tagovailoa was from November on. So let’s not kid ourselves: they’re not invincible, obviously. Clemson proved that. They certainly aren’t invincible within the confines of the SEC, either.”

Georgia, for example, is 24-5 over the last two seasons. The Bulldogs played for a national championship in 2017 and for an SEC title in 2018.

“Even though Georgia lost to (Alabama) last year and the year prior, they outplayed them for 52 minutes each time,” Sallee said. “There are some issues (at Alabama), and I think they felt like they addressed them, specifically with the coaching staff and a lot of coaching-staff turnover, especially in terms of experience. I think last year they had to go a little bit younger, a little less experience in terms of X’s and O’s to try to keep pace in recruiting, and that backfired on them.”

Either way, Alabama will almost certainly be in the College Football Playoff mix come December. 

“A step back for Alabama is way different than other schools,” Sallee said. “A step back for them is being tested all the way through the end of the season and still playing for an SEC-West title. If you’re doing that, you’re still in the national championship hunt, and that’s not changing at Alabama any time soon.”

Unfortunately, Sallee doesn’t see the SEC’s annual November cupcake changing any time soon, either. Indeed, the SEC’s top teams play a glorified scrimmage before Rivalry Week. Last year, Alabama played Citadel, Georgia played UMass, LSU played Rice, Kentucky played Middle Tennessee, Florida played Idaho, Auburn played Liberty, and Texas A&M played UAB.

Will the conference do anything about this? 

“No, they’re not,” Sallee said. “The SEC won’t, and if I’m in the SEC office, I wouldn’t either because it hasn’t come back to haunt them yet. Until it haunts them, they’re not going to do anything about it. Personally, I certainly would. It’s a really easy fix. You don’t have to go to a nine-game conference schedule. The easy thing to do is just say, hey, the week before rivalry weekend, that is a mandatory conference-game week. It’s an easy fix.”

Click below to listen to Sallee’s interview in its entirety.